March 2023.

Joining the national drive to end period-poverty, sanitary pad vending machines were handed over at local schools and a local library, within West Coast communities last week. Umoya Energy Wind Farm and Aurora-Rietvlei Solar Power, in partnership with the Menstruation Foundation, visited communities to celebrate the installation of these vending machines that provide free sanitary products to two schools in Saldanha Bay, as well as the local library in Aurora.

Represented by well-known entertainer and period-activist, Siv Ngesi, together with other personalities and campaign ambassadors, he was clear about the Foundation’s reason behind pushing for the provision of free menstruation products in communities, saying. “If men bled once a month, sanitary products would be free. Condoms are free and sanitary products are not, it is a failure of justice.”

As with the municipal library, the vending machines have been placed at Diazville Senior Secondary and MiddelPos Primary schools, where they will be stocked up monthly to ensure sufficient supply to cater to the needs of more than 650 young girl learners and women, throughout the year. Tokens to access the pads at no cost will be provided to the schools and the library.

These compact machines do not use electricity and work on a simple rotation system. By being installed in bathrooms or the sick-bays at schools, it allows for privacy. Whatsmore, the sanitary towels are also locally manufactured and compostable.

By supporting equal access to education, the programme aims to reduce stress caused by monthly cycles and keep girls in school during their menstrual period. Furthermore, learners have received support in the form of an educational talk on feminine hygiene and menstruation.

“Our objective is to support socio-economic development initiatives, such as this one, that address the immediate needs of the community and are in line with the wind and solar project’s goals and mission as a caring organisation seeking to leave a legacy of sustainable development in communities where we operate,” explained Shariefa Rhoda, Communities Operations Manager.

Note: The MENstruation Foundation is a non-profit organisation that strives to create free access to sanitary towels for young women during their menstrual cycle.

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